The Covid-19 pandemic may have led to sad and tragic events for several businesses, but it has brought good fortune and opportunities for Durban entrepreneur Omashini Pieri, who took a leap of faith into a different sector.
Pieri has her eyes set on breaking barriers with her cultured butter business, The Butter Lady.
Brought up in Chatsworth, upon matriculating she studied journalism at the then Natal Technikon. A few years after graduating, she found herself employed in the real estate sector, where she spent more than ten years climbing the corporate ladder.
It was during Covid in 2020 that “The Butter Lady” was born.
Pieri explained: “Around mid-year 2020, I found myself at a crossroads with my career and it was during this period that I woke up one morning to a very strange experience - it felt like someone whispered in my ear that I needed to make butter.
“It was a surreal experience and it stayed with me for a whole two months, plaguing me and pulling me into another direction. During this period, I began researching butter and made contact with various international artisan butter makers.
“The more information I gathered, the stronger the urge became, and the more I felt that this was my calling.
“With a lot of courage and determination, together with the help and support of my family, I decided to resign and start The Butter Lady.”
She added: “The inspiration behind the brand evolved in the following few months into operations. I educated myself about the value of ethical practices especially in the dairy and agricultural industries and their impact on our daily lives.
“I, therefore, chose my brand to support local and ethical dairy farmers whilst providing my customers with grass-fed dairy products that are free from routine antibiotics and rBST hormone-free.
“In addition, I ensure all my products are free from preservatives, colourants, artificial flavourings, bulking agents, emulsifiers, and other nasties. Our products are 100% natural.”
Shedding light on what cultured butter is and what makes her brand different, Pieri said: “Cultured butter is a fermented butter. The cream is inoculated with lactic cultures and held at a set temperature for some time - generally 24 hours although sometimes this can take up to 30 hours.
“Once the right consistency is reached, this cultured cream is then aged for up to three days before churning. The resulting butter has a higher fat content, a slight tang, and an extra punch of creaminess.
“The added benefit is that it is low in lactose and gut-friendly.”
She continued: “I like to think of The Butter Lady as an urban brand - bringing the benefits of 'farm to fork', a sustainable system to our urban lifestyles. We use traditional methods of churning, for example, our butter is a small batch churned daily. We also do not use prior frozen cream to make our butter.
“All our butter is made in the same week that the cows are milked ensuring the freshness of the product.”
When it comes to butter products, Pieri currently makes salted and unsalted sweet cream butter (a type of butter found in the dairy section of every grocer).
Their specialised butter, which is cultured butter (also made salted and unsalted), and additional products include compound butter, for example, garlic and parsley, ricotta, crème fraîche, mascarpone cheese and cultured ghee, which is double fermented.
The Butter Lady currently only supplies in bulk to the food industry and certain stores such as Hope Meats Supply, The Daily Bagel, Impala Ridge Farm, Hillcrest KwikSpar, Everest Foods, Home Grown Foods, Pablo Honey, Barthos Fish Co, Miche Bakehouse, The Pantry on 103 and Health & Herbal.
At the moment, Pieri is looking for premises to expand operations and she has been busy with new product developments that she cannot wait to share with her loyal customers and clients.